Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 Kauai Marathon Race Report: Beautiful But Brutal

So after the San Francisco Marathon, I decided within a couple days, "Golly, that wasn't as bad as I thought. I want to run Kauai Marathon." It actually kinda fell into my lap. Since the Kauai Marathon was started 3 years ago, I had expressed interest in running it if I ever ran marathons. The real beauty of the course was in the marathon, although the half is gorgeous too. I'd seen reviews from Runner's World, video from the race producers, and seen someone post a picture of the very pretty finisher medal. So all of a sudden, when my first marathon wasn't the disaster I knew your first marathon has the potential of being, I knew Kauai was back on the table. Now I was a marathoner, now that race was an option.
I actually thought it was the same weekend as Heels and Hills and Him Half, so I would have been unavailable. But when I looked it up, it was 5 weeks after San Francisco - September 4. My husband and I went, "WHAT?!?" Well, I would normally have done a 20 miler then as part of my Chicago Marathon prep.  So sure it's crazy, but WHY NOT? And I'd be traveling alone, Steve would stay home with the kids and it would just be a quick fly-in, run, fly-out trip.

So I did it, 6 days after my first marathon, I signed up for my 2nd marathon, only 4 weeks later. In the week of the race, I rewatched the videos about the race, and words they used stuck with me, "Beautiful But Brutal" and "The 3H's: Hot, Humid, and Hilly". Oh my gosh, what had I gotten myself into? I chose it because I'd heard it was beautiful, it was amazing scenery, and from miles away, at mile 16, you can see the ocean from way up high.

I knew it would be hard, but I had no time goals. My plan was to just enjoy the view and the experience. That's why I was running that marathon: FOR THE EXPERIENCE. I know, running purists, who race all-out just once or twice a year for a speedy time, I've just violated the convenants of your religion. Deal with it.

Flight was delayed in Los Angeles on the way there, so after a whole day of traveling - a 3 hour flight, 7 hour layover, and 6 hour flight, I arrived in Lihue, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, at 2 am Saturday morning. 28 hours before the start of the race.

I spent Saturday going to a store to stock up on tons of water and a bagel, poking around sightseeing just a tiny bit, going to the expo (where I was able to meet Joanna and Jessica, friends of my sister who were running the half marathon), and then attending the expert panel discussion.

I'm rarely starstruck, but the panel discussion was fun, with Bart Yasso, Rich Hanna, Dean Karnazes, JT Service (1st year's winner), and Mike Wardian (2nd year's winner).

Then some rest and a dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant before an 8:30 pm bedtime.

Race day up at 4:30, 2 hours to race start. I'm too slow to get ready (the start line is really truly a 45 second walk from my condo front door!), and I miss seeing Joanna, Jessica, and getting to meet Twitter friend Eva (@EvaTEsq), although she gives me a detailed outfit description and her location to find her. My fault, I'm running late. At the start 10 minutes til. They have Hawaiian fellows with torches and blowing the conch shells as we start.

New friends from the plane ride to Hawaii, Addy and Lisa, take my pic before we get started just before sunrise, 6:30 am local time.

We're off! Now remember, this race was all about an amazing experience. So I live-tweeted the whole race just like I did at San Francisco. Yes, I tweet at walk breaks and any time inbetween that I feel like it, while taking and tweeting a ton of pictures while I'm at it. I have to say that live-tweeting a marathon makes me feel brave. I'm committing to sharing my thoughts through a harrowing mileage to most people, and I'm sure there are people out there waiting to watch if you'll combust. It's raw through the late miles, you get all the emotion (can't hide it at that point), and everyone will see exactly how those last miles treated you, especially when you tweet mile split times also like I do. I always find it funny people who act all strong, say they ran the whole way and had a smart race, and if you look up their splits, you see the complete implosion that was their performance between the difference in pace up to mile 20 versus their finishing pace. So enjoy the tweets and some of the 60 pictures I took through the race.

@libbyruns: 1 mile in! 13:00 #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Mile 2 #kauaimarathon 13:03

Um, yes, by the way, it's really humid. The WHOLE marathon. Ick.

@libbyruns: Mile 3 #kauaimarathon 12:30

@libbyruns: Found @evatesq ! #kauaimarathon at mile 3.5

Yes, Eva runs by me, and I actually recognize her from her stellar detailed description of her outfit that she tweeted. I call her name, ready to look like an idiot, and she turns around. What were the chances? She looked strong and left me another 4-5 miles later to finish several minutes ahead of me at the end of the race.

@libbyruns: Mile 4.6 - mile 4 split was 13:06. #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Mile 5: 12:47. At mile 5.8 after 160ft climb over .6mi. Ugh.
@libbyruns: Mile 6: 14:26. Lotsa pics and previously mentioned ugly hill. Tunnel of trees

@libbyruns: Mile 7: 12:38, mile 8: 12:00. Ab muscle's doing ok. #kauaimarathon
I had an ab muscle tear 4 days before this race. Luckily didn't present any problems during the race.

@libbyruns: Mile 9: 11:53 #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Mile 10: offered to take 3 girls' pic in front of mile 9 marker and GU walk break, offset by pretty downhill 12:57 #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Mile 10.8 #kauaimarathon decision time! ;-)

@libbyruns: Mile 11: 12:26 #kauaimarathon on this mile: Drummers!

@libbyruns: Mile 12 split 12:56. At 12.7. Now it's hot AND humid w/ no shade. #kauaimarathon but still beautiful. Going up 140ft in this mile.
Still smiling!
Caroline, the TNT girl from Montreal who I have been leapfrogging with
the last handful of miles, and I stop to take each other's pictures. :-)
@libbyruns: 1st half #kauaimarathon split: 2:49, only 3 min slower than #SFMarathon but much hillier, hotter, and more humid!
At mile 14, a guy asks if I want to be sprayed by the hose, I say yes, and he sprays it full blast in my face. Um, thanks, dude. The girl with him even gets on to him. I spend the next half mile trying to see out my wet sunglasses.
 @libbyruns: Mile 15 split: 13:57. All uphill. @deankarnazes passed me on back portion at my mile 13.9.
@libbyruns: Mile 16 #kauaimarathon sucks! 300ft uphill, blazing sun. Grrrrrr
Well, that's a raw emotion.

@libbyruns: Mile 16 #kauaimarathon 16:50 and I don't freaking care. Worst hill of my life and still going
Reading back, my tweets make me sound angrier than I thought I was. To me it was more a surprise around every turn. For a planner like me, I was thinking, "How did I miss this on the elevation map?!?"

@libbyruns: The payoff - ocean view at mile 16.6 #kauaimarathon:

@libbyruns: Mile 17 #kauaimarathon : 15:31. Uphill, orange slice, water, retie shoes (wld like to avoid lost toenails!), pep talk. 700ft drop to finish

@libbyruns: Mile 18 #kauaimarathon : 15:39.

@libbyruns: Me at mile 18.4:
A kind volunteer offered to take this picture for me with the backdrop of the ocean.
@libbyruns: Omg the uphills nvr end. How r we supposed to finish on the beach? Roll down this mountain?!? Mile 19: 16:50. #kauaimarathon
This tweet makes me laugh so hard. We really did have about 500 feet left to drop, and it SO never felt like we did. Every downhill had an uphill.

@libbyruns: Mile 20 split: 11:53. yeah, baby! 10k left! Bring it! #kauaimarathon
@libbyruns: Mile 21: 12:04 #kauaimarathon
This was the "I'm still alive" surge, plus a little more downhill, but still some uphills. Also, and this is important, some SHADE for Miles 20 and 21 before it went out from miles 22 on!

Interestingly enough, Mile 20 was my fastest mile, and Mile 21 was my third fastest mile, of the whole race.

@libbyruns: Where did this uphill come from?!? My legs r trashed! #kauaimarathon mile 21.4
Hard to see here but when this short downhill ends, there's another uphill, sigh.
@libbyruns: Mile 22: 15:26. Darn uphills. & this sun feels hotter than TX sun. :-)

@libbyruns: Mile 23: 14:43. At the airport 10 miles away, it's 84* feels like 87. No shade, few clouds. Think I might slow down, relax. #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Ambulance just passed, trolling for heat victims. I have Chicago Marathon in 5 wks, this is stupid. I'm gonna enjoy view, walk it in.

This was a tough decision. As you can see in miles 20 and 21, I still had some in me. And the fact I could function decently post-race confirms that. But I was a woman traveling alone, with a 7 hour flight home the next day that would land at 5 am Tuesday to then take care of my kids all day. And another marathon 5 weeks off. It's easy to feel pressured and feel obligated as a runner to go all-out, it's our Type A nature, but I think I made the smarter decision. And screw you to the one runner who made me feel terribly weak and a quitter for choosing this.

@libbyruns: Now I hear ambulance sirens. If this was Chicago, they'd call the race off. Can't believe I CHOSE this, LOL. Mile 24: 16:24. #kauaimarathon

@libbyruns: Luv! RT @ReneighRuns: @libbyruns YOU'RE IN HAWAII! Enjoy. Breathe. Smile. Run a fast marathon some other day :)

@libbyruns: Just passed a sign "If u were running #SFMarathon u'd be done by now!" #hallucinating LOL. Screeching ambulance just passed me!

@libbyruns: The best ice water in the world at mile 24.4!

And then the last half mile, you are literally up against the beach with houses on your left and ocean on your right.

I have a decently strong last mile or so. See?
Last 0.62 of Mile 26: 11:45 pace

Last 0.2 miles: 12:27 pace
I come in and cross the finish arch as the announcer says my name. Here's a pic of the arch I took the day before, before they moved it into the roadway.

I was happy with my time, because that wasn't that important anyway. 6:03:59. I finished 314 out of 344. Which when I saw that surprised me - I knew it felt quiet and empty out there once we split from the half marathon but I had no idea how small the marathon was. I went from a race of 6000 marathoners at San Francisco to a few hundred. What a difference!

Final splits all together, especially since my tweets left out some miles:
Mile 1: 13:00
Mile 2: 13:04
Mile 3: 12:30
Mile 4: 13:07
Mile 5: 12:47
Mile 6: 14:26
Mile 7: 12:39
Mile 8: 12:09
Mile 9: 11:54
Mile 10: 12:57
Mile 11: 12:26
Mile 12: 12:57
Mile 13: 14:45 Mile 14: 12:36
Mile 15: 14:01
Mile 16: 16:50
Mile 17: 15:32
Mile 18: 15:39
Mile 19: 16:50
Mile 20:  11:54 - Awesomesauce!
Mile 21: 12:05 - Awesomesauce!
Mile 22: 15:26
Mile 23: 14:44
Mile 24: 16:25
Mile 25: 18:01 - Are we done yet?
First 0.38 of Mile 26: 15:46
Last 0.62 of Mile 26: 11:45  -- YAY!
Last 0.2 miles: 12:27

What's Next?
Chicago Marathon in 5 weeks, on October 9. Not sure if I have a time goal so don't ask. I mean, for gosh sakes people, it's my 3rd marathon out of 3 ever marathons in less than 90 days. Please don't ask things that make me feel like I need to put pressure on myself to perform, LOL. :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hood To Coast Relay Race Report with Team Runners World - Part 4

If you missed them,

Part 1 - Arriving in Portland and Grocery Shopping with my new teammates
Part 2 - Race Start and Running my first leg (Leg 1)
Part 3 - My Teammates, and Running my second and third relay legs

And now the last part - the team finish and the question I was peppered with the most: "what's Bart like?"

Strong Finish
28 hours after we had started Monday morning at 9, our team finished. Taylor was our anchor leg, and after crossing under the big Finish banner, I had her pose by the "Last Runner" sign before she collected our finisher medals.

Taylor brings it home for Team Runner's World
I was so happy when we had finished, such an amazing experience...

Beaming at the finish!
Afterward, Bart hustled the whole team to the beach to walk in the cold Pacific water. Yeah, we know I'm a priss - I didn't want to get my feet all wet and sandy without a towel handy, so I'm the only one in shoes.

Hey, hey, the gang's all here!
A great lunch afterward then the long drive back to the hotel in Portland, and I CRASHED. 2 hours napping in a van over a 38 hour period is rough on the body.

The Big Question, Everyone Wants To Know About Bart
I had the unusual experience to spend roughly 30 hours in a van with Mr. Bart Yasso, Runner's World's Chief Running Officer. So with all the fans of Bart and the work he's done, while off running this race and afterward, one of the biggest questions I get is "What's Bart Like?" Please note these are all still regarded by me as first impressions from my limited time getting to know the guy.

Always a smile!
He's real. He's a nice guy. He's a joker and a bit of a goofball. He's goodhearted. He also comes across as impulsive and at times a little hyper or easily distracted by all the things going on around him. I described him to someone as a "happy hyper puppy with the power of Bart Yasso". If Bart wants to do something, Bart just does it. No one really questions him. Luckily, he's a nice guy so no worries. He gets excited for our last runner coming into the finish, and we turn around and Bart's up in the Announcer's tower looking with them on the computer for where our runner is at. Looking down, he's thumbs up-ing, he's so terribly excited for Taylor, our anchor, and says he can see her on their data there. He's Bart, he can do that.

He has a good memory, evident in his knowledge of the race on his 14th trip and in remembering people he's met before. However, I wouldn't say he is terribly detail-oriented, this coming from me, an overly analytical detail-oriented type. He's more laid back, the "it'll all work out in the end" type.

That said, having lunch after the race, I gave him a hard time about something. And then I said, "I'm just joking with you, giving you a hard time." And his response as I recall it: "That's okay, I love it, no one ever gives me a hard time." And that's probably true, and I can't imagine that's always that much fun.

In our community, he's a celebrity. He was SO nice to always stop and chat with fans and pose for pictures whenever asked. Even if his relay leg was up next.

He does all his own tweeting and in his downtime, would be on the computer before and after the race a lot. I'm sure some people think it's like one massive vacation where he just travels from race to race, but he's working all through that. Also, and I was able to talk to him about this in Hawaii at the Kauai Marathon, people want to be him and trade lives to travel to the places he gets to go. But they are never there when he has long layovers in an airport, or arrives at 2 am somewhere, or his flight gets cancelled. He travels a lot and that has to wear you down.

I feel like I did a good job of treating Bart as "another teammate", and I hope he respects that. With the amount of people who deservedly put him on a pedestal, it's gotta be nice to just have people be real and just go for a run.

So who reading this has met Bart? What do you think? Fair observations or have you seen another side?

Very happy to have spent time with him and all the great New Balance and Runner's World friends I made!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hood To Coast Relay Race Report with Team Runners World - Part 3

If you missed them,
Part 1 - Arriving in Portland and Grocery Shopping with my new teammates
Part 2 - Race Start and Running my first leg (Leg 1)

Now onto Part 3: between the relay legs with my teammates, and my 2nd and 3rd relay legs to run.

Fun Teammates
In my van was Claire and Kristen from New Balance and Bart, Jeff, and Molly from Runner's World. They are all much faster than me. Jeff is so fast that he passed about 150 people in his 3 relay legs... and the only person who passed him during his legs was the person on the team that won the entire relay last year! But all were great runners, and even better, genuinely nice people to be thrown together for 30 hours in a Nissan Quest.

The introductions, in alphabetical order...

Bart Yasso, a goodhearted guy goofing off pre-race

Claire, rolling on her IT Band in her downtime. Silly and fun but serious about her running!

Jeff, so fast his feet don't touch the ground. ;-) Says he doesn't like people, but got along well wth everyone!

Kristen, very smart girl - she brought an eye mask and ear plugs for the
night naptime. And she loves her some crunchy peanut butter.

Molly with her great spirit, shown here in her first relay leg. Even at our most tired, driving
at midnight down a dark quiet Oregon country highway, she had me giggling.
My Second Leg - Explaining the Adrenaline of an Endurance Relay
I'm the first runner in our van, so the adrenaline would hit me the worse before I started the 2nd and 3rd legs. For the second leg, about 7 pm Friday, we get to the relay exchange site, and I'm out of the van and ready for Taylor to come in and hand me the baton. Ring Warren in the other van? Oh, they missed the last exchange so were delayed 20 minutes. Adrenaline spike over - back in the van. Call my husband, hang out, okay, it has to be nearing time, back out of the van. Head over to the handoff area, hang with Bart, wait wait wait. The other van doesn't really know what time Taylor started, or what her pace would be. Wait wait wait.

This is a hard part of these relays. The adrenaline surges, then wait, then anticipation, then RUN - GO GO GO! So you have planned your naps, your food, your potty break around a potential time your runner may or may not come in. And then it can all get skewed from there. So about 45 minutes of craning my neck, listening to them yell team numbers for incoming runners, and - oh, it's my turn!!!

Taylor finishes strong!
Take the baton from Taylor, and I'm off. Too fast. Rein it in, girl. You still have 4.2 miles, and for Portland, it's HOT. No shade, no clouds, and high 80s with humidity.

Start of my second leg (Leg 13)
A beautiful leg early on, I cross a big bridge over the river and run right along it through a nice promenade. Then into a more industrial area, although still along the river.

My split paces: 11:08, 12:29, 12:30, 12:23, 10:57 (last 0.2). Too fast up front but then consistent (something I constantly strive for), and a nice kick at the end. I feel good.

Third Leg - "CARLO"
At midnight, our van goes "on break" for a few hours. Molly drives the van, I sit up front to navigate and keep her company, and everyone else sleeps while we make the 45 minute drive to the spot for Leg 25 where we will pick back up our running. We get there, no cell service, and it's a very busy exchange. We park, lots of bustle, van headlights, and we all try to get some sleep in our van chairs.

2 hours of not very peaceful sleep. Because we all keep hearing "CARLO" being yelled. OVer. and OVER. AND OVER again. Turns out Jeff and Molly both were very close to jumping out of the car and screaming, "Obviously, Carlo isn't here", but they didn't want all the lights in the van to go ahead and disturb everyone else's sleep, not realizing it was disturbing all of our sleeps. Except Kristin, who hearing about our freakout right after waking up asks "Who's Carlo?" Guess who brought ear plugs.

It's cold and a little foggy/misty. We don't know when to expect the other van to come in with no cell service from them for 4 hours. So I put on a jacket and wrap a blanket around my legs and Bart waits out at the side of the road in the chaos of teams coming and going with me. Teammates snooze a little and come and go as we wait. Molly got this great nighttime pic.

Waiting for Taylor to come in for my turn to run my last leg (Leg 25)
It's 3 am, and as runners come in, they stand on one side of the highway. And occasionally shout out their team number. The next leg of folks are crowded on the other side, trying to hear or see signs of their runner. With no cell service, no one knows when to expect their runner. A couple people who have come in are waiting a good 30+ minutes. Imagine running a hard nighttime leg, and you finish and can't potty, you don't have any water, any food, shivering in the cold, waiting for your team to come collect you. As a race director, I definitely had a moment of "this could be improved upon". This race does much right, but as a MAJOR van change spot with no cell reception, I imagine this scene has looked the same for years here, and there's much better ways to do this.

Taylor comes in, we spot her right away, I throw off my jacket and blanket, take the baton, start my Garmin, turn on my headlamp, and I'm off. Yeah, that's a lot to accomplish in 20 seconds, and your adrenaline spikes through the roof at that moment too.

I go out too fast, again, and slow it down. Beautiful quiet, rolling hills, twisty turny highway, enough mist to make my headlamp reflect the light back at me at times to where I can only see the white line of the shoulder of the highway on the ground. It's hard at times in this dark dark dark to see where the tall pine trees end and the sky begins, but the stars help answer that question.

At my pace, I get passed left and right until about 2 miles in. You are tired, your legs are tired. It's not that you have run a lot of miles, it's the conditions you have existed in all day. I watch my Garmin constantly to verify pace as I can't trust the signals my legs send. Still groggy from the 2 hour nap, but coupled with being hopped up waiting 45 minutes in anticipation for the baton handoff. A guy passes me who I realize isn't going that much faster, so I tuck in 3-4 feet behind him, illuminating his path with my headlamp, and just hang on. He keeps turning his head slightly to the side, and I'm thinking "Dude, just enjoy the extra light in this very very dark location. I am not going to pass you. It's gonna have to be your job if you want to speed up, or just say something." After a few minutes, he quits the glancing and just runs. We both seem stronger for it. I just have to stay a handful of feet behind him and it makes running easier without having to push myself.

In the last 0.2 miles of this shorter 3.75 mile middle-of-the-night relay leg, I decide to repay the favor because I'm at the end of my total running in this race and feeling strong. On a big curve in the highway, and an uphill during the rolling hills, I make my move and pass him, and hope he will follow me to take us strong into the finish. But no, I lose him quickly after that. I pass a person or two coming into the finish with a hard final kick, well, hard for my pace and for all my body and mind have been through for an endurance relay. And for me that's a 9:30-10:00 minute per mile pace during that final kick compared to my usual 12-ish minute per mile pace.

Split paces: 11:59, 12:46, 12:04, 11:15 (last 0.75 miles, normal pace first 0.55, and kick last 0.2 miles, averaged out)

Tomorrow I hope to finish the blog entry with the race finish, and yes, the question everyone asked me, "What's Bart like?" LOL.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hood To Coast Relay Race Report with Team Runners World - Part 2

Now, in Part 2, on to the running! LOL. Part 1 covered several semi-strangers shopping for a hodgepodge of relay groceries for our two team vans. I put this Hood To Coast Relay weekend adventure in multiple blog posts as I'm trying to catch up on journaling my running to relive it some day in the future.

So before I headed to Portland, I had posted my "oh my goodness, I'm running down the side of a mountain" post about the difficult Leg 1 that I actually CHOSE to run. Race morning, we prep the vans for a 6 am leave time for what will lead up to a 9 am team start i.e. my first leg at 9 am.

We had a little excitement as we were getting ready to go. Somewhere in the hotel a fire alarm went off - a few vanmates were temporarily stuck in the elevator (eek!) and the firefighters arrived in their fire truck to investigate. Hence the oddity of a firetruck in the background of the group pic here!

Our vans, our homes for the 36 hours, were the only 2 of their kind. Provided by a Hood To Coast sponsor, we had "Official Vehicles" decaled-out in our Nissan Quest minivans.

The cleanest Kristen and I would be for the next 30 hours of running ;-)
We stopped at a grocery store on the way east to Mount Hood. Then we started the climb that encompassed Legs 1 and 2 of this race - legs me and Molly were running. It was exciting and a little disconcerting to hear these faster runners squealing about the elevation as we climbed and climbed. I was generally feeling okay because I knew my advantage was that I'm able to run 70% and not feel pressure to come out from the start racing all-out on this 2000 foot drop. Then, Bart didn't make me feel better when he, a 14 year veteran of the race, said, "Leg 1 is a leg where even if you run it easy, you puke." Golly gee, thanks, Bart.

On Top of the Mountain

Mt. Hood, right before I ran 2000 feet down a mountain over 5.6 miles
We checked in at packet pickup. The lines took us a while, and it made everything very hurried for my 9 am start. We ran over to what Bart called "the rock", where it appears every team takes their picture, and snapped two pics.

Van 1

Goofy picture pose!

Right after these pictures, we're walking back toward the start. My nerves are appearing because we're really pushing our luck in terms of how close we are to our 9 am start. Then I hear Bart say, "Oh, they just called our team name." Oh no! I literally get to the start line within 10 seconds of the start of our wave of 15 or so teams. Everyone else looks at me like, "Guess who decided to join the party?" LOL.

In the gray shirt. Made it to the start in the nick of time!

Down and Down and Down

I'm having a blast on this leg. It's absolutely beautiful. Curvy highway, beautiful ancient evergreen trees, perfect blue sky, a breeze, and amazing views.

This race requires a fast average pace from all teams, so I was not surprised to quickly fall behind the others.
That's okay, more time to enjoy the view! :-P

There were even waterfalls RIGHT by the shoulder of the road.

No zoom necessary! Only a couple feet from me!
And can you believe how tall those pine trees are?!?

And look, the downhill never ends!
I come around a corner and our team's Van 2 is there waiting for me. They make me smile so much. It's such great energy to kick off the race, and I feel so blessed to be in the company of these strangers-turned-friends!

Look at the awesome Van 2 running with me!

Laura ran a little further with the sweetest sincere, "How ya doin'? You okay?" moment.
I'm not worrying about my pace, and I'm just trying to enjoy the view and remember to smile as often as possible at this experience of a lifetime.

Can't. Stop. Smiling.

About a half mile or less from the end of this 5.6 mile leg, I turn onto another road, and suddenly the downhill is over, and there is a momentary tenth-of-a-mile uphill. BAM! Legs turn into sludge, but I power past another runner, because I had thankfully conserved energy.

I can't help but start kicking it in on this flat last quarter mile. Finish strong.

Yay, I actually have leg muscles in this picture!

I prep my relay band (which is a like the 80s "slap bracelet" so I have to unfold it into a straight baton off of my wrist), and Molly and I execute the first handoff of the team seamlessly!

Afterward, someone captured my happiness, and relief, of finishing that first relay leg.

Me, happy with this amazing experience's kickoff!
Side note: We all had a big laugh that the company who does the portapotties calls them "Honeybuckets"

More in another day or so, as I show off pictures and thoughts about the team's downtime, and my legs 2 and 3!